John Smoltz and Tom Glavine are both 1st ballot Hall of Famers and two of the best pitchers of the past 30 years. No disrespect to these two phenomenal pitchers, but I’d take Roy Halladay over them any day, and here’s why…
What bothers me most about these great pitchers who spend the majority of their career in the National League, is that they’re looked at like some kind of pitching god. Clayton Kershaw is a great pitcher, one of the best to ever play, but let’s see what his numbers would be if he pitched in the American League East as much as Halladay had to.
Just look at what Halladay did during his first two years in the National League when he was still healthy and on top of his game. He went 40-16 with a 2.40 ERA. 2.44 ERA in 2010 and 2.35 in 2011. Glavine and Smoltz had some solid single-season ERA’s, but never did they have an ERA (as a starter) lower than what Halladay had in either 2010 or 2011 when he was a member of the Phillies. Could you imagine the numbers Halladay would have put up had he played the bulk of his career in the National League like Glavine and Smoltz?
Halladay didn’t just pitch most of his games in the AL, he did so in the toughest division of them all when the Yankees and Red Sox were the two most dominant teams in baseball. When it comes to Major League Baseball, some players are at a huge advantage with regards to their league and team. Examples of this sort of advantageous environment would be hitters who play for Colorado or National League pitchers. On the contrary, some players are faced with the most difficult of conditions, none of which is tougher than being a pitcher in the AL East.
Halladay doesn’t have 300+ wins like Glavine, or Smoltz’ history of being an elite starter and closer. It doesn’t take an expert however to see that Halladay was the superior pitcher. He played on a mediocre team for 12 of his 16 years and still managed a career .659 winning percentage. Whereas Glavine and Smoltz, who spent most of their time with the perennial powerhouse Braves, only had winning percentages of .600 and .579.